Max Weber was a German historian, political economist, jurist, and sociologist. Widely regarded as one of the most influential and important theorists, Weber's ideas had a profound influence on social research and social theory. Although he did not see himself as a sociologist, Weber is often counted among the fathers of sociology alongside Émile Durkheim, Auguste Comte, and Karl Marx.
German philosopher and sociologist Jürgen Habermas is counted among the most influential philosophers across the world and is identified with the tradition of critical theory and pragmatism. He influenced many disciplines through his work which addresses communicative rationality and the public sphere, and includes topics starting from social-political theory to aesthetics, language to philosophy of religion, and epistemology.
Karl Marx, the philosopher, economist, political theorist and socialist revolutionary, is best-known for the 1848 pamphlet, The Communist Manifesto and the three-volume Das Kapital. His theories, called Marxism, maintained that class conflict leads to the development of human societies and that internal tension were inherent in capitalism, which would ultimately be replaced by the socialist mode of production.
Georg Simmel was a German sociologist, philosopher, and critic considered a forerunner to structuralist styles of reasoning in the social sciences. He was neo-Kantian in his approach and laid the foundations for sociological antipositivism. He broadly rejected academic standards and wrote extensively on the philosophy of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. He was married to philosopher Gertrud Kinel and had one son.
The proponent of the Frankfurt School of critical theory, Herbert Marcuse largely influenced the leftist student revolts of the 1960s. Equipped with a PhD in German literature, he wrote Hegel’s Ontology and the Theory of Historicity, with Martin Heidegger. His Eros and Civilization spoke at length about capitalism.
Erich Fromm was a German social psychologist, psychoanalyst, sociologist, and socialist. A German Jew, he fled the Nazi regime and settled in the United States. He was a co-founder of The William Alanson White Institute and was associated with the Frankfurt School of critical theory. He is best remembered for authoring the book Escape from Freedom.
One of the most prominent intellectuals of the 20th century, Theodor Adorno was a pioneer of the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory and despised the culture industry. Born to a singer mother, the German sociologist grew up amid music and could even play Beethoven on the piano by 12.
Ferdinand Tönnies was a German economist, sociologist, and philosopher. He is credited with co-founding the German Society for Sociology where he served as the president from 1909 to 1933. Widely regarded as the first prominent German sociologist, Tönnies contributed significantly to field studies and sociological theory. Ferdinand Tönnies is often counted among the founders of classical German sociology.
Max Horkheimer was a German philosopher and sociologist. He is best known for his work in critical theory as a member of the Frankfurt School of social research. He addressed authoritarianism, economic disruption, militarism, and environmental crisis in his works. He had a successful academic career and remained an influential figure until his death. He was married to Rose Riekher.
Niklas Luhmann was a German sociologist and philosopher of social science. He was also a prominent thinker in systems theory. Considered one of the most important social theorists of the 20th century, he was best known for his debate with the critical theorist Jürgen Habermas over the potential of social systems theory. He wrote or co-wrote hundreds of books.
Wilhelm Dilthey was a German psychologist, sociologist, historian, and hermeneutic philosopher. An ardent admirer of Friedrich Schleiermacher, Dilthey helped revive the former's works on hermeneutics. Wilhelm Dilthey is also credited with teaching future philosophers like Hans Lipps, Eduard Spranger, and Theodor Litt.
Ralf Dahrendorf was a German-British sociologist, philosopher, and political scientist. As a class conflict theorist, he was a leading expert on analyzing class divisions in modern society. He was the author of multiple articles and books, including Class Conflict in Industrial Society (1959). He served as a professor of sociology in several universities in Germany and the UK.
Rudi Dutschke was a German sociologist and political activist. He was a leading figure within the West German Socialist Students Union (SDS). He was also involved with the Federal Republic's broader “extra-parliamentary opposition” (APO). He supported a world-wide socialist revolution. He was brutally attacked by an assassin in 1968 and struggled with his injuries for years before dying in 1979.
Ulrich Beck was a German sociologist whose work focused on questions of uncertainty, ignorance, and uncontrollability in the modern age. One of the most cited sociologists during his lifetime, Beck is credited with coining the terms second modernity and risk society. Over the course of his career, Ulrich Beck was honored with many prestigious awards like the Schader Prize.
Alfred Weber was a German geographer, sociologist, economist, and theoretician of culture. Weber's work and contribution played a key role in the progression of modern economic geography. The younger brother of Max Weber, Alfred Weber contributed theories for analyzing social processes, social change as a confluence of civilization, and culture.
Norbert Elias was a German-British sociologist. He is best known for his theory of civilizing/decivilizing processes. He studied philosophy, psychology, and medicine at the University of Breslau and was deeply involved in the German Zionist movement. He later moved to the United Kingdom where he pursued an academic career. He wrote prolifically following his retirement.
Andre Gunder Frank was a German-American economic historian and sociologist who advocated dependency theory and world-systems theory. In the 1950s and 1960s, Frank taught subjects, such as economics and anthropology at several American universities. He then went on to serve as a professor at the University of Chile. From 1981 to 1994, he taught at the University of Amsterdam.
Werner Sombart was a German sociologist and economist. He was one of the 20th century's most important Continental European social scientists who served as the leader of the Youngest Historical School. Werner Sombart is credited with coining the phrase late capitalism. He is also remembered for his magnum opus, Der moderne Kapitalismus.
Born to German-Jewish immigrants in Argentina, Esther Vilar studied medicine before she moved to Germany to study psychology and sociology. After taking up scores of odd jobs, she soared to international fame with her bestselling book The Manipulated Man, which argues that women aren’t oppressed but control men in relationships.
Ernst Troeltsch was one of the first German theologians to insist that the Christian church should reconsider its version of absolute truth. The Social Teaching of the Christian Churches remains his best-known work. The son of a physician, he was skeptical of religious absolutism from the very beginning.
Arnold Gehlen was a German sociologist, philosopher, and anthropologist. He is credited with influencing numerous contemporary German thinkers like Peter L. Berger, Niklas Luhmann, and Hans Blumenberg. Arnold Gehlen also served as a teacher in prestigious institutions like the University of Vienna and the University of Königsberg.
Helmuth Plessner was a German sociologist and philosopher. He was an ardent supporter of philosophical anthropology, which deals with questions of phenomenology and metaphysics of humans. From 1953 to 1959, Helmuth Plessner served as the chairman of The German Sociological Association.
Carl Grünberg was a German Marxist philosopher of law and history. He studied law in Strasbourg and practiced as an advocate. He then proceeded to study political economy in Vienna and eventually became an academic reader. He was one of the founders of Austromarxism. He became the director of the Institute for Social Research in 1924.